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University Of Virginia Press: A Slight Change In Name Signals A Significant Confirmation Of Institutional Support

April 24, 2002-- Beginning next month with its Fall catalogue, the book publisher founded at the University of Virginia in 1963 will have a new name: the University of Virginia Press. Previously the University Press of Virginia, the publishing house will make the adjustment to reflect more accurately its close relationship to its host institution, said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III.

"At a time when some presses have dwindling support, we want to signal our strong commitment to bringing the highest quality scholarship to light, whether through print or new digital media," Casteen said. "The Press always has been a leader in publishing important works about the history and politics of the United States, about literature and other humanities fields, and about the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of course, all these long-standing interests will continue."

"We expect this to be a win-win relationship," said Penelope Kaiserlian, the Press’s director. "The Press gains support in its ambitions to become better known nationally, and the University formally acquires an established book program. U.Va. will benefit whenever a book carrying its imprint is reviewed in a prominent newspaper or journal or the author is quoted in the media. Our publishing program will benefit from the continued service of senior faculty as series editors and board members and from the strengthening of our list in areas where the University has a great reputation, such as architecture and early American history."

The name will also be on the Press’s new electronic imprint when it publishes its first works next year, Kaiserlian said. The e-publishing program, supported by a $635,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a matching amount from U.Va., will be the first devoted exclusively to publishing original, peer-reviewed digital scholarship in the humanities.

The Virginia Press, which currently publishes 50 to 60 new titles annually by authors from around the world, received its first funding from the General Assembly. As the Press grew, it became largely self-supporting from sales income and endowment funds but also receives direct and indirect support from U.Va. in funds and space. The Press began operations in the most prized space of all -- Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda -- then moved to a University building named in honor of Samuel M. Bemiss of the Virginia Historical Society, one of the Press’s founders.

The Press’s editorial program features special concentrations in American history, African American studies, Southern studies, literature, ecocriticism and regional books, and it maintains a backlist of more 1,000 titles in print. Its board of directors, which approves new titles after a rigorous process of peer review, has always included several U.Va. faculty and one or more faculty from other Virginia institutions.

"As a historian at William and Mary," said Melvin Ely, board member and author of The Adventures of Amos 'n' Andy, "I've found a congenial home-away-from-home at the University Press in Charlottesville. Under its new name, the Press will remain what it has been for many years -- an inviting destination for authors from all of Virginia's colleges and universities and from every part of the nation and the world."

The Virginia Press has launched many influential books about the nation's founding and continues to publish two of the six major documentary editions of writings by the Founders: the Papers of George Washington and the Papers of James Madison. The Fall catalog announces three new volumes in these Papers projects, as well as a new exclusive distribution arrangement with Mount Vernon for its series, the George Washington Bookshelf.

Titles in the Press's Fall catalog also continue the publisher's engagement with the cultural dilemmas of race, ethnicity and power relations in the United States, the Caribbean and Africa. These include Race Man, a biography of John Mitchell Jr., the "fighting editor" of the black newspaper the Richmond Planet; The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative; and The John Brown Legend Revisited by distinguished historian Merrill Peterson, whose association with the Press goes back to its earliest days.

Contacts: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856 or Mark Saunders, (434) 924-6064

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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